The Mekong and Me

From Ho Chi Minh City, I decided to do a tour of the Mekong Delta.  It was a full day, and worth it.  It wasn’t what I thought – I envisioned exploring floating markets, but apparently that is a two day tour.  But, it was a great time, and I was in a group with nine others, from China, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore.  Super nice group.

 

We drove for about two hours, stopping once at a beautiful rest stop for washroom, snacks and there was the opportunity to buy souvenirs, of course.  The rest stop was beautiful, and everybody snapped photos.  (the bamboo ‘logs’ were bridges to get to a restaurant) I ate some fresh mango on a little tiny island and enjoyed the sunshine.

When we got to the Mekong Delta, we boarded a blue, SE Asia-feeling rickety boat, that looks like it could use a new coat of paint, and has seen alot of tourists revolving in and out of its planks and bench seats.  Had a nice sail and our guide explained the Mekong River to Vietnamese people is called the nine headed dragon, because it exists SE Asia in nine places and it curves like a dragon.  We saw barges carrying rice (they are always covered) and people illegally stealing mud, which will result eventually in soil erosion, a major environmental concern for the Vietnamese.  The river is very muddy and so is a fecal coloured brown, and doesn’t look inviting.  The green leaves are water hyacinth, I believe, the guide said, and are used for so many arts and crafts and daily life activities.  Plus, the water plant can be eaten.

 

We visited a honey farm and tried honey and royal jelly, then saw a local band and had a tropical fruit tasting.  We tried pineapple, guava, dragon fruit, Vietnamese kiwi, and jack fruit.

 

We also had a nice Vietnamese lunch with a standing fish, fried rice, and many dishes.  It was a really nice meal.  The fish was put into rice paper with fresh greens, a sauce and so on to make Vietnamese salad rolls.  The spring rolls (usually not my favourite) were fabulous with this delicious tamarind sauce.  And, the Vietnamese pancake took the cake – savoury with shrimp and other goodness inside, and topped with a fish and garlic/chili sauce.  A-mazing!  Lovely.

 

We returned to the bigger boat via horse drawn mini carriage.  Cute, but seemed a little over the top and bordering on animal cruelty as our horse was old and had a hard time keeping up but was pushed to continue in the heat.

We also visited a coconut candy making factory.  I didn’t like the taste of the gummy candy, but the smell of coconut in the air was a delight to the senses!  And the fascinating old massive machines they used to grind, extract the coconut oil, heat, and mix the coconut candy were worth the short visit.

Before lunch, we had my favourite part, and I loved it.  It was riding through the narrow channels of the river on the island that winds like the notes of a beautiful melody.  The curves are graced above by intermingling water palms, gracefully leaning over and forming beautiful tunnels of greenery.  We were paddled by a villager at the front and another at the back.  It was a beautiful, simple thing, and we glimpsed the various houses where they lived along the river, fishing and paddling tourists for a living.

 

It was a nice day, but the paddling was definitely my favourite part.  Local life, and fun, and beautiful.  And, we got to wear cool Vietnamese hats, too – functional, awesome looking, and very light in the heat.

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